MBCB's position on medical marijuana

Monday, October 19, 2020
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

drugs smoking marijuanaAs Mississippians prepare to decide whether to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the state's Baptist Convention Board explains why it doesn't think either ballot initiative should be approved.

The state has two initiatives involving medical marijuana on the November ballot. Initiative 65 would allow for 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana that would be taxed at the state sales tax rate (seven percent as of 2020), and the cost for medical marijuana patient ID cards would be capped at $50. The Mississippi Department of Health would be the administrating agency. As for the ability to smoke marijuana in public places, that would be prohibited.

Initiative 65A, which was created by the Mississippi Legislature in opposition to Initiative 65, seeks to restrict the allowance to smoke marijuana to terminally ill patients. Details on qualifying conditions, possession limits, taxes, and cost of ID cards are not yet specified.

In an interview with News MS, Jamie Grantham of Medical Marijuana 2020 (MM220) said the legislature has tried time and again to pass medical marijuana legislation, and it was not until her side got something qualified for the November ballot that legislators came up with something and "rammed it through" the legislative process.

"There's just a law of flaws in the way the Initiative 65 constitutional language was drafted," Representative Trey Lamar (R-Mississippi District 8) told News MS. "It really just screams with an intent to flood the market."


Meanwhile, Shawn Parker, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) tells OneNewsNow, "We are opposed to both of the initiatives and are encouraging people to vote 'no' in general. That is our position."

Parker asserts that the MBCB is sympathetic to anyone who is going through any kind of a traumatic medical condition that involves pain or discomfort.

"We would want them to receive the medical help that they need for that, but we do not believe that medical marijuana is the avenue to provide medical help for those individuals," Parker adds.

In essence, he says the Board's opposition is to the fact that this would not be a pharmaceutical-based program.

"If someone went to a doctor, and the doctor offered a prescription, and then that prescription was filled by a pharmacist, that would be pharmaceutically-based process," he explains. "But this program is going to be … you receive some kind of authorization from a medical doctor, but then you go to a dispensary, and that dispensary has minimal regulation. And an individual is able to purchase marijuana and utilize it for whatever medical need they deem appropriate."

That, contends Parker, is not the way medical issues are handled in the United States. If either of the initiatives passes, he would not rule out a future attempt to legalize recreational marijuana or some other drug in The Magnolia State.

"If you look at other states that have legalized medical marijuana, many of them have gone on to legalize recreational marijuana, and we would expect that that would be the next logical step that might be taken," he reasons.

The MBCB has published educational articles on the subject and has tried to get them into the hands of all of the state's Baptist churches.

"We are also producing a brief video ad that is going to help people understand what the ballot is going to look like and understand how to vote against both [Initiative] 65 and 65A, because our concern is that the ballot itself is going to be confusing to people, and we want to make sure that there is clarity there," Parker continues. "We are not at this point planning to use television ads, but we are going to use Facebook and Twitter and all of those channels that we feel will be effective in helping us get the word out to Mississippians."

American Family Association (AFA) is also encouraging the state’s voters to vote against both initiatives.

Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates OneNewsNow.com.


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